India captain Virat Kohli said an in-form Shikhar Dhawan can single-handedly destroy any bowling attack on his day and propel the team to victory. Dhawan scored 132 not out and shared an unbroken 197-run partnership with Kohli as India beat Sri Lanka by nine wickets with 21 overs to spare in their first one-day international on Sunday at Dambulla. "The last three months have been a great time for Shikhar. The good thing is that he is capitalising on his purple patch," Kohli said after the match. (MATCH SCORECARD | MATCH REPORT)
Dhawan smashed 20 fours and three sixes in his 90-ball innings, which was his 11th ODI century. Kohli finished on 82 not out off 70 balls after earlier winning the toss and asking Sri Lanka to bat.
Dhawan was India's highest run-getter in the preceding three-match Test series, scoring 358 runs at an average of 89.50 and with two hundreds, including a career-best 190. Kohli said he would like to keep Dhawan in "that zone for as long as he can".
"He can win you games with the way he bats and we would be looking to keep him in that zone for as long as we can. He is feeling good about his game and is hitting the ball well. When he plays like this he is a match-winner and even in Tests he can win you games with the bat," the skipper added.
Sri Lanka failed to convert a good start into a big score and were dismissed for 216 in the 44th over. Niroshan Dickwella top scored with 64, and shared a 74-run opening wicket partnership with Danushka Gunathilaka (35) and 65 runs for the second wicket with Kusal Mendis (36).
But Sri Lanka quickly slid from a solid 139-2 in the 25th over, losing their remaining eight wickets for 77 runs.
"They got off to a very good start. We thought we would be chasing something close to 300. It was a brilliant wicket for batting. The whole idea of winning the toss and bowling first was hoping that the wicket would be slightly slow in the day. The ball was coming onto the bat like a dream under lights and Shikhar and me enjoyed batting together. At 129/1 we had a few things to think about but the bowlers came back superbly," Kohli said.
The second of the five-match ODI series is on Thursday at Pallekele.